Effective networking is one of the most valuable skills an individual can possess, especially in a down economy. Those who are most effective at building meaningful relationships will always have an advantage over others. If history has taught us anything, it is that relationships make the world go ’round. No matter what your field or industry, you must become a great networker and the best time to start is when you think you don’t need it. Here are the five biggest mistakes to avoid:
Mistake #1 — Improper Prep: Being prepared is beyond important. Know the purpose of the event. Who will be there and have you identified those you want to meet? Do you have enough business cards? Proper preparation = peak performance.
Mistake #2 — Rambling: If multimillion dollar corporations can deliver their value proposition in a 30-second commercial, so should you. Don’t create more questions than you answer. Being clear, concise and compelling is the name of the game.
Mistake #3 — Self-Focused: Networking is designed to be a two-way street. The key is to think of how to add value before asking for anything. Focus on what you can give and you will be amazed at what you get.
Mistake #4 — Poor Presentation: You must look the part to make your mark. This includes professional attire, grooming, quality business cards and everything else associated with you and your brand.
Mistake #5 — Faulty Follow-Up: Great follow-up should have the scent of enthusiasm without the stench of desperation. There is a fortune in follow-up, but most fail to turn contacts into contracts due to a faulty approach. Follow-up should be done promptly, consistently and in a way that strengthens the relationship.
Mastering the art of networking, like any other skill, requires dedication, focus and a plan. Avoid these five common mistakes and reap the rewards of your networking labor.
Chris Bryant is a leading brand strategist, national speaker, executive coach and former director of staff training for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He specializes in personal branding and customer relations. His clients include Nestlé, Mattel, Black Enterprise magazine and the U.S. Department of Treasury, to name a few. For more information visit www.ChrisBryantPresents.com or send e-mail to MyStory@ChrisBryantPresents.com.